Looking for some book recommendations

I am looking for a long list of works by the Church Fathers or other Christians pre-schism. What are some must read works? I want to give a comprehensive consideration to both Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, and I want to approach this with a good understanding of the primary sources that under-gird these traditions so I can better follow the debates between them. I had been pretty well persuaded by the RCC, but as of late, I have opened myself back up to the EOCs and find myself very torn. I am now slowing down my inquiry and planning to digest as much of Sacred Tradition in coordination with Sacred Scripture that I can before committing myself to the RCC or an EOC.

TL;DR I am requesting a list of must read books by pre-schism Christians to aid in my Christian journey

Christians pre-schism?
You mean Catholic Church?

Because Christians pre-schism = Catholic Church

I know. Consider what I mean as Catholics pre-schism. I am looking for works that pre-date 1054

At the New Advent website you can read just about everything the Church Fathers ever wrote. There are forty-something titles by Augustine alone. You might consider starting with the Confessions and the City of God.


Gosh, there are just so many!

For the Western church, many here will recommend St Augustine, and I rather agree. Confessions and On Christian Doctrine are important. I don’t love the theological project that he’s up to in the City of God, but it’s probably essential due to its insights.

Another necessary one would be St Gregory of Nyssa. His Life of Moses is an amazing view into patristic allegorizing. Really deep and beautiful (Paulist Press). There’s a recent anthology of 7 of his greatest works in one volume. I have it and would recommend it too. Has his work On Virginity, his Great Catechism, On the Making of Man and On the Soul and the Resurrection. All important works.

Paulist Press also has a one-volume of the complete works of Pseudo-Dionysius. He’s also probably essential reading, especially for an Eastern perspective.

It’s probably worth exploring competing approaches to the sacred scriptures. Origen’s commentaries are must reading for masterful allegory (see new advent). St John Chrysostom is the best known representative of the Antiochian (“historical”) approach, which often thought of itself as contra the Alexandrian school. Lots of Chrysostom’s homilies are also at new advent.

Here’s the thing. In the West, all seems to be footnotes on Augustine. And Augustine himself is sometimes footnotes on Origen. The East has the clear advantage in both breadth and depth. If not for the 20th century Ressourcement, the Catholic Church would be in a bad spot today!

St Athanasius wrote On the Incarnation which I can recommend for Advent reading if you haven’t found anything else. It can be found online as it was written around the time of the Council of Nicea 325AD.

Check out Bishop Robert Barron´s Youtube channel. Search for Church Fathers and he will give you a good start regarding the most important Church Fathers and what they wrote about.

Jerome, Gregory the Great, the Cappadocian Fathers are some more to look into.

One alternative could be to read what they wrote about regarding one theme at a time like the Eucharist or Baptism or Mariology or what interests you at the moment.

Didache was written around the same time as the books in the Bible. Also known as the The Lord’s Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles.

Happy reading and don’t forget to get some sleep. :wink:

An excellent source would be Dr. David Anders, a Calvinist convert and host of EWTN’s “Called to Communion” He loves to recommend books!

The Fathers Know Best by Jimmy Akin

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Secret of the Rosary

Louis De Montfort

I almost don’t wanna mention it because of how obvious it is but definitely make sure to be familiar with the Bible when reading their expositions of it and oral traditions.

You might like the three volume, The Faith of the Early Fathers, by William A. Jurgens (Liturgical Press).

Newman Press publishes the Ancient Christian Writers series. I have volumes from this publisher such as The Conferences by St. John Cassian and Ad Monachos by Evagrius Ponticus.

Cistercian Studies is another great source. Two of my favorites which they publish are The Lives and The Sayings of the Desert Fathers.

Can you please recommend a good translation, available online? I once made a start on the translation I found at New Advent, but I never got very far. I found the syntax dauntingly impenetrable.

The Fathers Know Best by Akin?

BINGO. My go-to book when someone wants to begin with the early fathers without investing in lots of time or getting bogged down in one father’s writing all at once.

Great book, organized by topic. :+1:

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Secret of the Rosary is a short, amazing book and I would recommend all Catholics read it. But I don’t think that would help with the OP’s question, as it was written in the 1700s.

These recommendations from Fr. @edward_george1:

Hey @BartholomewB, I have the one by GLH publishing. It’s pretty cheap. The Kindle version is a dollar but even the paperback copy I think is five dollars. I don’t know if it’s available for free, but the prose and the translation reads very naturally. I just took a look at the new advent version, and the two translations are not even comparable. And, the GLH version has an introduction by CS Lewis as an added bonus. If you can get your hands on it…

To give you an idea of the feel of this translation, here are the opening lines by Saint Athanasius.:

In our former book we dealt fully enough with a few of the chief points about the heathen worship of idols, and how those false fears originally arose. We also, by God’s grace, briefly indicated that the Word of the Father is Himself divine, that all things that are owe their being to His will and power, and that it is through Him that the Father gives order to creation, by Him that all things are moved, and through Him that they receive their being. Now, Macarius, true lover of Christ, we must take a step further in the faith of our holy religion, and consider also the Word’s becoming Man and His divine Appearing in our midst. (p. 17)

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Thank you, @Magnanimity! Yup, that looks like the one for me!

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Thank you, @Beryllos! I’m surprised to see there are several different translations in print. I’ll try and sample this one, too.

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